The duel between Microsoft's Zune HD and the iPod Touch is officially on, said the New York Daily News. Microsoft unveiled the specs and Sept. 15 launch date of its Zune HD portable media player —its latest “attempt to claw market share away from the dominant leader,” Apple’s iPod. The two previous generations of the Zune have attracted “only a tiny slice” of the MP3/video-player market, but Microsoft is hoping the Zune HD’s lower prices and HD goodies will lure prospective iPod Touch buyers.

Microsoft has an “uphill battle,” said Andrew Hickey in The Channel Wire, but I think the Zune HD “will be the first true rival to the Apple iPod.” First, HD—it can play, and play back on TV, high-definition video, and it has an HD radio receiver. It also has a better OLED touch screen, Java, and an internal “processing punch” the iPod lacks.

The Zune HD “sounds great,” said MG Siegler in TechCrunch, and it’s nice for Microsoft to finally “steal some buzz” from Apple. But the Sept. 15 launch date was a mistake, since Apple always unveils its new iPods in the first week of September. The rumors are that the new iPod Touch will be cheaper and sport a camera, so Microsoft could end up being “one-upped by Apple yet again.”